House members to travel to Asia for talks on trade, security

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House Majority Leader Eric Cantor will lead a congressional delegation to the Asia-Pacific region this week for talks on trade, regional security and strengthening U.S. alliances in the region.

The 10-day trip, which begins Friday, will include talks with high-level officials in Japan, South Korea and China.

Cantor, a Virginia Republican, said that while situations in the Middle East "continue to deteriorate" and Russia's aggression against Ukraine has "raised new concerns about security in Europe," the United States must remain engaged in promoting peace and stability in Asia.

"Our investment in Asia's future is an investment in our own prosperity," he said. "I look forward to a productive dialogue with Japanese, Korean and Chinese leaders about the importance of free trade and free markets, as well as our shared interests in promoting stability in the region and confronting North Korean provocations."

The trip coincides with President Obama's travel next week to the region, where he is scheduled to meet with leaders in Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and the Philippines. The president's trip starts April 23.

Cantor, in a February speech at the Virginia Military Institute, warned the U.S. against falling into an "isolationist sentiment" similar to the years leading up to World War II and ignoring security concerns in Asia.

"We must not repeat the same mistake by reducing our preparedness, accepting the notion that we are one of many, or ceding global leadership to others," the lawmaker said. "The world is still dangerous, and it is getting smaller as technological advances bring disparate conflicts closer and closer to our shores."

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., who is part of the delegation, said it's vital for the U.S. to maintain "strong and healthy relationships" in the Asia-Pacific region to open up new markets for American companies.

"And given the security challenges we face in Asia, I especially look forward to meeting with [U.S.] troops on the front lines in Japan and South Korea," he said.

The nine-member delegation of House members includes Armed Services Committee Vice Chairman Mac Thornberry and State and Foreign Operations Subcommittee Chairwoman Kay Granger, both of Texas, and Cybersecurity Subcommittee Chairman Pat Meehan of Pennsylvania — all Republicans.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii is the delegation's lone Democrat.

Congress is on a two-week break, returning April 28.

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